How to Plan a Gala

RedWater Events
September 7, 2022

Planning a gala involves a great deal of time and effort. However, with this guide, you can ensure that your next gala event goes smoothly so you can raise as much money as possible for your cause. 

What Is a Gala?

A gala is a celebratory event that typically involves dinner, dancing, and an auction or raffle. The formal to semi-formal event is usually held by or in support of a nonprofit organization. Aside from entertaining guests, the goal of a gala is to raise money for a special cause. 

What Happens at a Gala Event?

During a gala, there will be drinks, a reception, a sit-down dinner, dancing, and other entertainment. At some point during the gala, there may be a speech, ceremony, or announcement to talk to guests about why or what they are celebrating. There is also usually an auction or raffle used to earn money towards the organization and its cause. 

Gala vs. Ball: What’s the Difference?

A ball is a dance party involving ballroom dancing. While both a gala and ball are formal events where dancing is involved, the two are different. The main purpose of the ball is dancing, while the purpose of a gala is to raise money for a nonprofit organization or other cause. 

Gala Dinner Party Checklist

  1. Select an Organization to Support
  2. Set a Fundraising Goal
  3. Determine a Fundraising Method
  4. Choose a Gala Theme
  5. Find a Gala Venue
  6. Choose a Caterer
  7. Set a Date
  8. Finalize Your Gala Dress Code
  9. Determine the Guest List
  10. Design and Send Invitations
  11. Purchase or Create Themed Decorations
  12. Hire Staff and Recruit Volunteers
  13. Set Up Gala Event Space
  14. Enjoy the Gala!
  15. Ensure Benefiting Organization Receives Funds

15 Steps for Planning a Gala

1. Select an Organization to Support

The first step to planning a gala is to select an organization to support. The purpose of the gala is to gain interest from the community about a cause you are passionate about. You might be a part of the organization you are holding the gala for, or might be hosting the gala on the organization's behalf.  

2. Set a Fundraising Goal

Your fundraising goal will be the amount of money you hope to raise from the event. When setting your goal, you should also consider the price for tickets and what might be auctioned in order to reach your goal. 

3. Determine a Fundraising Method

The most common gala fundraising method is a raffle. However, there are many variations of the raffle that you can choose from, such as:

Whichever method you choose will be based on your fundraising goals and personal preference. 

4. Choose a Gala Theme

Choosing a theme for your gala can make the event more exciting and allow guests to participate more. Some popular theme include:

5. Find a Gala Venue

Finding the right venue can make a huge difference to the success of your gala event. When choosing a venue, you will want to ensure that the space can comfortably hold all of your guests, that the environment fits your preferred style, and that there is space for guests to mingle. 

Those in West Michigan who are planning a gala event might consider RedWater Events as their venue. RedWater Events’ spaces are perfect for formal events and offer spacious environments for socializing and dancing.

6. Choose a Caterer

The next step is choosing a caterer for the event based on your theme, number of guests, and budget. You will also want to consider if there will be an open bar and what drink and dinner options you will have on the menu. 

By choosing to host your gala at a RedWater Events location, you can save time and hassle thanks to the venues’ in-house food and beverage catering abilities. 

7. Set a Date

Once you have your venue and menu, you will want to select a date. The date should align with your venue and caterers availability and might match the theme of your event.

8. Finalize Your Gala Dress Code

Dress codes are important to keep the event formal enough and on-theme. Some examples of acceptable attire to add to the dress code include: 

9. Determine the Guest List

Your guest list will determine who will be invited to the gala. The number of guests you invite should be based on your budget and the capacity of the venue. Depending on the location, RedWater Events spaces can hold 175-450 guests. 

10. Design and Send Invitations

Next, you will need to design and send the invitations to the gala. The invitation should include the following:

11. Purchase or Create Themed Decorations

The decorations you choose should follow the formal feel of galas while matching your specific theme. Some decorations to plan for include:

12. Hire Staff and Recruit Volunteers

You will need to hire staff based on the theme of the event. This might include an auctioneer, bartender, antiques assessor, live assessor, photographer, and live music or other entertainment. You might also recruit volunteers to help with throughout the event. The staff at RedWater Events can help make sure your gala is a successful one.

13. Set Up Gala Event Space

The final step in preparing for a gala is to set up the space. This will involve hanging artwork, setting tables, and setting up props. This can be a stressful part of planning a gala, but the venues at RedWater provide the perfect setting to help make your space come to life. 

14. Enjoy the Gala!

Finally, you can enjoy the gala you spent so much time and work planning. During the event, try greeting and thanking as many people as possible for coming. Check in with staff and volunteers to make sure everything is running smoothly and on schedule. Lastly, have fun and remember your goal for holding the gala. 

15. Ensure Benefiting Organization Receives Funds

After the gala, it is important to ensure that the funds raised go to the intended organization. You might also send a thank you to those who attended or donated.

Host Your Next Gala Dinner at RedWater

Ready to host your next gala dinner? RedWater Events has the venue, staff, and catering you need for a smooth gala hosting experience. 

Contact RedWater today to get started.

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